Horses are a remarkable species full of subtle emotional expression, social behavior and body language. I love to observe my horses. I enjoy learning about my closest animal allies.
Now that I understand the language of equine ears, I can take one glance at Zum and know his emotional state. This is extremely helpful to me as I know what I need to do to prepare our lesson together.
Ears that are constantly moving, turning this way and that way, show that the horse is shifting attention and interest. Mobile ears are picking up new sounds in all directions.
Pinned ears or ears flattened against his head signal that Zum is angry and he is ready for a fight. It is a fight over dominance. Zum still wants to be the dominant horse. He wants me to be submissive to him. I am trying to show him that I am the boss mare. I don’t want to fight with him but I have to show him that I am in control.
When Zum’s ears are flicking and twitching, I know that he is on the verge of bolting. Despite my own feelings of panic, I have to calm Zum down.
I have learned that when a horse hears a sound that makes him startled, alert or worried, he will turn his head and even his whole body towards the sound and prick his ears forward, facing directly towards the sound.
Some horse people feel it is a waste of time to talk to a horse. I disagree. Horse’s have a brilliant sense of hearing. I talk to all my horses all the time. I give my horses verbal commands like ‘whoa,’ ‘go,’ ‘no,’ and ‘good boy.’ I love to tell Huszar what a handsome and brave horse he is!
While I am training Zum, I have learned that I may have to repeat things hundreds of times before Zum understands that I am serious in my requests. Zum still pins his ears back and refuses to move forward at times. I keep encouraging him to move forward, consistently, over and over, until he does.
Sometimes, Zum still pins his ears back and throws his head around. I feel anxiety when he does this with me. But I don’t want to focus on his irritation. Instead of spending more time and energy focusing on Zum’s problems, I provide Zum with a new goal that is positive. Our goal now is to relax.
When I saddle up Huszar, Kamar thinks and hopes that he gets to go on a ride too. Huszar doesn’t like to pony another horse behind him so I have learned that I cannot bring another horse with me when I ride Huszar.